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Engaging the Surveillance System: Cognitive, Emotional, and Physiological Responses to Inappropriate Leader Displays
Unformatted Document Text:  Leader Displays 10 viewer assessments, and violate normative expectations, they are likely to generate anxiety and engage the surveillance system, increasing attention. Information processing studies have shown that as attention to media messages increases, heart rate decreases (A. Lang, Dhillon, & Dong, 1995). It can therefore be predicted that: H2: Inappropriate displays will elicit slower heart rate than appropriate displays. Research on physiological responses to leader displays indicates that viewers evidence more autonomic arousal during anger/threat displays than during happiness/reassurance displays (Lanzetta et al., 1985). Media research has also consistently found that negative stimuli are both attention eliciting and arousal inducing (A. Lang, Newhagen, & Reeves, 1996; Reeves & Nass, 1996). Regardless of their appropriateness, negative leader displays should be arousing. In the context of negative compelling news, negative presidential displays should induce increased arousal because viewers have already been engaged by attention-getting information. It is thus predicted that: H3: Negative leader displays will induce more arousal than positive displays, particularly following negative news segments. The audiovisual redundancy literature has found that when there is a mismatch between the verbal message of a news report and the visuals shown on screen, memory for verbal information will suffer (Drew & Grimes, 1987; Grimes, 1991; A. Lang, 1995). As dissonance increases, the complexity of the message is thought to overload attentional capacity and the viewer may abandon the verbal stream, concentrating instead on the visuals (Grimes, 1991). Because they take the president nonverbally “off script,” inappropriate displays do not conform very well to the news context. Visually, the

Authors: Bucy, Erik. and Bradley, Samuel.
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Leader Displays 10
viewer assessments, and violate normative expectations, they are likely to generate
anxiety and engage the surveillance system, increasing attention. Information processing
studies have shown that as attention to media messages increases, heart rate decreases (A.
Lang, Dhillon, & Dong, 1995). It can therefore be predicted that:
H2: Inappropriate displays will elicit slower heart rate than appropriate displays.
Research on physiological responses to leader displays indicates that viewers
evidence more autonomic arousal during anger/threat displays than during
happiness/reassurance displays (Lanzetta et al., 1985). Media research has also
consistently found that negative stimuli are both attention eliciting and arousal inducing
(A. Lang, Newhagen, & Reeves, 1996; Reeves & Nass, 1996). Regardless of their
appropriateness, negative leader displays should be arousing. In the context of negative
compelling news, negative presidential displays should induce increased arousal because
viewers have already been engaged by attention-getting information. It is thus predicted
that:
H3: Negative leader displays will induce more arousal than positive displays,
particularly following negative news segments.
The audiovisual redundancy literature has found that when there is a mismatch
between the verbal message of a news report and the visuals shown on screen, memory
for verbal information will suffer (Drew & Grimes, 1987; Grimes, 1991; A. Lang, 1995).
As dissonance increases, the complexity of the message is thought to overload attentional
capacity and the viewer may abandon the verbal stream, concentrating instead on the
visuals (Grimes, 1991). Because they take the president nonverbally “off script,”
inappropriate displays do not conform very well to the news context. Visually, the


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